In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful....

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful....


This is a journal of my experience in life as as a Muslim convert. I share about the things I learn, question, reflect upon, achieve, and experience on the path of Islam. [96:1-5] Read! In the name of your Lord who created - Created the human from something which clings. Read! And your Lord is Most Bountiful - He who taught (the use of) the Pen, Taught the human that which he knew not.

About Maryam

I study Islamic Studies and International Business at the university, and enjoy studying political science and languages as well. On my free time I study Arabic, Hebrew, and religion. I am Guatemalan and American.I am also Spanish, Italian Scottish and German. I also speak Spanish, Japanese, and Italian. I love to learn about other cultures. I also love to learn about nutrition and fitness. I am very active in sports, outdoor activities and exercise, and flamenco dance class. I am fascinated with my country, Guatemala, it is such a beautiful place, full of variety and rich culture and history, especially the Maya. I LOVE to cook and I try to have a well-balanced diet. Someday I also hope to learn Amharic, Persian (Farsi), and Aramaic and I hope to travel to all of the middle east and Ethiopia, Japan, and Sicily.

Knowledge and Understanding

[2:269] He [Allah] grants wisdom to whom He pleases; and he to whom wisdom is granted indeed receives a benefit overflowing. But none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.
[20:114] High above all is Allah, the King, the Truth. Do not be in haste with the Qur'an before its revelation to you is completed, but say, "O my Sustainer! Increase my knowledge."
[3:190-191] Verily in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day - there are indeed signs for men of understanding; Men who remember Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the creation of the heavens and the earth (with the thought) "Our Lord! Not for nothing have You created (all) this. Glory to You! Give us salvation from the suffering of the Fire."
[39:9] ...Say: Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that remember (Allah's Message).
[58:11] ...Allah will raise up to (suitable) ranks (and degrees) those of you who believe and who have been granted knowledge.

Sheikh Mishary Al Afasy

He came to my mosque in the USA to recite from the Qur'an recently and when he prayed salat he cried. My first time to pray the late night prayer during Ramadan was when I went to Kuwait in the Grand Mosque and Mishary was reciting Surat Maryam! Sub7anAllah... Here is a video of nasheed (Islamic poetry) from him. He has been blessed with a beautiful voice for praising Allah, masha' Allah. You can see some of his recitations of the Qur'an at my mosque at this site -

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Salam alaikom! Since my trip to Central America, I have been thinking a lot about interfaith dialogue....ah who am I kidding? I have always been interested in this. I can say however that my experience as the only Muslim among a very diverse group of classmates in Central America during my study there was a great source of inspiration to me regarding interfaith relations. I spent most of the time on this trip with a Mormon and a Jew, Arilev and El Cole, respectively. It was a stark contrast from my surroundings just before this trip living in Kuwait for almost a year. I had the opportunity to speak with most of the students at one point or another to address questions they had about Islam. At one point along this educational journey, I was asked by my friend if it is possible for one to be a Jewish Muslim. It was coming from someone who had always asked me thoughtful and profound questions, the ones we never think to ask. He is one of those who reflect, that is for sure. He was the first person to ever ask me about how I pray and what I pray about, but that is a whole different topic. The first thing that came to my mind when he asked me about being a Jewish Muslim, was what it means to be Muslim. A Muslim is one who submits completely to Allah, while Islam means submission to Allah. I told him based on that I would think that it is possible for that. Here's just one example for you: Jesus! So there you go. But being the inquisitive and intelligent individual that Arilev is, he had yet another good question to ask. He asked, would a Jewish Muslim have to prostrate in prayer? I thought to myself, well this is a part of what the prophets (pbut) did in worship to Allah and a very natural position for our bodies when we worship Allah, but I think the bottom line is to obey Allah and believe in only one God. But it prompted me to look further into why Muslims prostrate in prayer and here is what I have found until now.
Turns out there is an entire chapter in the Quran given the title "the prostration," in Arabic, "A-Sajda." Chapter number 32
Here is a verse from it in different translations:
YUSUFALI: Only those believe in Our Signs, who, when they are recited to them, fall down in prostration, and celebrate the praises of their Lord, nor are they (ever) puffed up with pride.
PICKTHAL: Only those believe in Our revelations who, when they are reminded of them, fall down prostrate and hymn the praise of their Lord, and they are not scornful,
SHAKIR: Only they believe in Our communications who, when they are reminded of them, fall down in prostration and celebrate the praise of their Lord, and they are not proud.

YUSUFALI: Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, the while they call on their Lord, in Fear and Hope: and they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on them.
PICKTHAL: Who forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of that We have bestowed on them.
SHAKIR: Their sides draw away from (their) beds, they call upon their Lord in fear and in hope, and they spend (benevolently) out of what We have given them.

YUSUFALI: Now no person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden (in reserve) for them - as a reward for their (good) deeds.
PICKTHAL: No soul knoweth what is kept hid for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.
SHAKIR: So no soul knows what is hidden for them of that which will refresh the eyes; a reward for what they did.

YUSUFALI: Is then the man who believes no better than the man who is rebellious and wicked? Not equal are they.
PICKTHAL: Is he who is a believer like unto him who is an evil-liver? They are not alike.
SHAKIR: Is he then who is a believer like him who is a transgressor? They are not equal.

YUSUFALI: For those who believe and do righteous deeds are Gardens as hospitable homes, for their (good) deeds.
PICKTHAL: But as for those who believe and do good works, for them are the Gardens of Retreat - a welcome (in reward) for what they used to do.
SHAKIR: As for those who believe and do good, the gardens are their abiding-place; an entertainment for what they did.

YUSUFALI: We did indeed aforetime give the Book to Moses: be not then in doubt of its reaching (thee): and We made it a guide to the Children of Israel.
PICKTHAL: We verily gave Moses the Scripture; so be not ye in doubt of his receiving it; and We appointed it a guidance for the Children of Israel.
SHAKIR: And certainly We gave the Book to Musa, so be not in doubt concerning the receiving of it, and We made it a guide for the children of Israel.

YUSUFALI: And We appointed, from among them, leaders, giving guidance under Our command, so long as they persevered with patience and continued to have faith in Our Signs.
PICKTHAL: And when they became steadfast and believed firmly in Our revelations, We appointed from among them leaders who guided by Our command.
SHAKIR: And We made of them Imams to guide by Our command when they were patient, and they were certain of Our communications.

YUSUFALI: Verily thy Lord will judge between them on the Day of Judgment, in the matters wherein they differ (among themselves)
PICKTHAL: Lo! thy Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they used to differ.
SHAKIR: Surely your Lord will judge between them on the day of resurrection concerning that wherein they differ.

So what I am beginning to see is that while prostration physically feels like a natural part of worship and what our bodies incline to do, and besides, who wouldn't automatically fall to their knees in the presence of the All-mighty? I know I would be inclined to as I did so even as a Christian. But this prostration before Allah and for the sake of Allah, does not necessarily mean prostration in a strictly literal or only physical sense. It is a prostration more of the spirit and our humility and submission to and total adoration of the one God. So while some may do it only partially in bowing or bending over, while others with there head to a rug, and still others with their head only in direct prostration to the earth, it is all a matter of the intention of the heart. It is clear that the prophets understood the deeper meaning of sujood (prostration), that it went beyond physical ritual even if they did it physically, what is more certain is that it was from within. Thanks again to my kindred soul I discovered the beauty of prostration at an even deeper level. Sujood can also be a physical manifestation of acceptance, acceptance to God's command, to His authority over our life, to His will and His plan and his majesty.

More examples of prostration from the Holy Quran:

"To GOD prostrates (Yasjud) everything in the heavens and everything on earth- every creature-and so do the angels; without the least arrogance." (16:49)

Here again is an example of humility and submission, and this "prostration" is done by all, and it shows it has a deeper meaning than what we typically see as prostration, a simple body movement done many times throughout salat.

It is interesting to note that Allah makes no exceptions or allowances for excluding prostration during prayer as he does regarding fasting or cleansing (Ablution, wudhu), pilgrimage, etc... (ablution 5:6, fasting 2:184, shaving ones head during pilgrimage 2:196, placing weapons on the ground during wartime Salat 4:102). So if it really is just a physical action, then what if a person becomes sick? Allah does provide allowance for the person in that case to perform Salat standing, sitting, or lying down...But there has been NO exception for a person from prostrating and this could likely be because it is not necessarily a physical element.

[Ha Mim Sajdah 41:37] Among His proofs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Do not prostrate before the sun, or the moon; you shall fall prostrate before Allah who created them, if you truly worship Him alone.

Here prostration connotes ultimate worship and adoration to only God and no other. It is clear that here there is some figurative commentary here, using the sun and moon to indicate that we are not to get down on the ground bowing before physical creations with the idea that we are actually worshiping God through this act. He could have picked any pagan idols as examples but since the sun and moon are always out, then it could even mean in one way or another we are prostrating towards them and we should only prostrate to God. So how do I do this you ask? Well, if prostration is a symbol of showing honor, humility, submission, obedience and adoration, then we can prostrate by obeying God and submitting to his will. This is the actual prostration we can show to God and do for Him.

In support of the theory I mentioned about bowing physically can relate to the sun and moon, let's take a look at the story of Prophet Suleiman (pbuh):

"He (Suleiman) inspected the birds, and noted: 'Why do I not see the hoopoe? Why is he missing? 'I will punish him severely or sacrifice him, unless he gives me a good excuse. He did not wait for long. (The hoopoe) said: 'I have news that you do not have. I brought to you from Sheba, some important information. I found a woman ruling them, who is blessed with everything, and possesses a tremendous palace. I found her and her people prostrating before the sun, instead of GOD. The devil has adorned their works in their eyes, and has repulsed them from the path; consequently, they are not guided. " (27:20-24)

Although we can be quite sure that this was a very 'intillegent' bird...he still did not command the ability to understand human speech (only Suleiman was given this gift 27:16). Thus, it becomes apparent that the bird understood what the Queen of Sheba and her people were doing by sheer 'observation'. So, what did he observe?. We are told that he observed them 'prostrating' before th sun...this would indicate that the bird witnessed a 'physical 'prostration by Sheba during the day and knew it had to be to the Sun (prostration to GOD is to follow His will).

[al-Mursalat 77:47] Ah woe, that Day, to the Rejectors of Truth!

[al-Mursalat 77:48] And when it is said to them, "Prostrate yourselves!" they do not so.

Many Muslims, some Christians, and even some Jews and others prostrate physically on the ground, yet not all are followers of Truth or submissive to Allah. So this CANNOT be what Allah is asking of us, and even if prostration is God it must be through the right intention, and the true prostration must be in obedience to Allah and humility of spirit.

The meaning of Bow and Prostrate

[al-Hajj 22:18] Seest thou not that to God bow down in worship all things that are in the heavens and on earth, the sun, the moon, the stars; the hills, the trees, the animals; and a great number among mankind? But a great number are such as are fit for Punishment: and such as God shall disgrace, none can raise to honour: for God carries out all that He wills.

The above verse lists other physical entities that bow to Allah. This list includes earth, sun, moon, stars, hills, trees, and animals. Has anyone ever seen any of these creations bow and prostrate on the ground (animals excluded)? These verses are instructing us to think on a higher level. Or should I say these AYAAT (signs) are pointing us to something higher.

Remember when Prophet Yousef (pbuh) (Joseph) had his dream that the stars were prostrating to him? Well, he realized it was his family who would later in his life prostrate to him. But did they literally? No. They prostrated in the form of humbling themselves before him for what they had done, and bowed in the form of submitting to him and to give him his honor as a respected brother, son, good Muslim, and just leader of Egypt appointed by the Pharoah.

Take a look at the second half of this verse which describes those who do not bow to Allah.

[al-Hajj 22:18] ...But a great number are such as are fit for Punishment: and such as God shall disgrace, none can raise to honour: for God carries out all that He wills.

What reason is someone fit for punishment? Would a person who believes in Allah alone, The Last Day, and lives righteously be punished for not getting on the ground? Before answering recall this verse.

[al-Baqarah 2:62] Those who believe, and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Nazerenes (pure form of Christainity) and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

No, not all of the mentioned people bow and prostrate on the ground. Will they be punished? No, it is the people who do not SUBMIT to Allah and FOLLOW HIS COMMANDS that will deserve His punishment.

The verses on the angels give us a definition of Prostrate.

[al-Kahf 18:50] We said to the angels, "Fall prostrate before Adam." They fell prostrate, except Satan. He was of the jinn, and he disobeyed the order of His Lord. Will you choose him and his descendants as lords instead of Me, even though they are your enemies? What a miserable substitute!

The above verse explains to us that prostrating before Allah (who cannot be compared to His physical creation) , is obeying His commands! This is what the angels were commanded to do in respect to Adam (mankind) The Angels serve man by Allah's command, it is Iblis who disobeyed the order of His Lord. When Allah asked the angels to prostrate, He was telling them to OBEY HIS COMMANDS regarding Adam. There is no need to get on the ground to worship your Lord because He has not commanded us to do this. If you do it, then great if that is out of your spirit's yearning to fall before him. But more importantly, He wants us to Bow and Prostrate our WILLS to that of HIS WILL.

[al-Baqarah 2:133] Were ye witnesses when death appeared before Jacob? Behold, he said to his sons: "What will ye worship after me?" They said: "We shall worship Thy God and the God of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isma'il and Isaac, the one God: To Him we bow."

[Al-Imran 3:43.7] "O Mary! Worship thy Lord devoutly: Prostrate thyself, and bow down with those who bow down."

The believers are not followers of an "organized religion" but people who follow the ONE SYSTEM which the true teachings these "organized religions" came from and point to. That system is Islam, complete submission to the one God.

There is of course actual clear physical prostration defined in the Quran as well, but usually regarding human interactions, but in this case the word to prostrate would almost always be followed by the word "Khar'a" (to fall down), to let us know that it is physical prostration. If sujood actually meant to physically fall to your face before something or someone, why would Allah feel the need to add Khar'a right after sujood? There would be no need to if sujood meant the phyiscal prostration literally.

[Yusuf 12:100] And he raised his parents high on the throne, and they fell down in prostration, before him. He said: "O my father! this is the fulfillment of my vision of old! God hath made it come true! He was indeed good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you (all here) out of the desert, (even) after Satan had sown enmity between me and my brothers. Verily my Lord understands best the mysteries of all that He plans to do, for verily He is full of knowledge and wisdom.

[al-A`raf 7:120] But the sorcerers fell down prostrate in adoration.

[Sad 38:24] (David) said: "He has undoubtedly wronged thee in demanding thy ewe to be added to his ewes: truly many are the who wrong each other: Not so do those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and how few are they?"...and David gathered that We had tried him: he asked forgiveness of his Lord, fell down, bowing, and turned (to God).

[al-Fath 48:29] Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, compassionate amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves, seeking Grace from God and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their marks, the traces of their prostration. This is their similitude in the Taurat; and their similitude in the Gospel is: like a seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong; it then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight. As a result, it fills the Unbelievers with rage at them. God has promised those among them who believe and do righteous deeds forgiveness, and a great Reward.

This verse is used by sects to say that prostration to Allah must be physical. Let us look at one other verses to see if that is true.

[Muhammad 47:30.21] Had We so willed, We could have shown them up to you, and you should have known them by their marks: but surely you will know them by the tone of their speech! And God knows all that you do.

Here Allah is talking about “those in whose hearts is a disease”, what mark would they have? These “marks” are NOT physical marks. They are traits that each have that, if detected, can distinguish a believer and a non -believer. Believers are humble and kind, Non-believers are arrogant and pushy (for example). Allah has made His System easy.

[al-Baqarah 2:58] "...and enter the gate PROSTRATING"

How does one move forward through any gate sliding on his hands, knees and face? Would that not be painful? Allah has made His system easy, hence all the more reason to believe that it is not a literal meaning of prostration.

[as-Sajdah 32:15] Only those believe in Our Signs (verses/ayats), who, when they are recited to them, prostrate, and celebrate the praises of their Lord, nor are they puffed up with pride.

The above verse gives us no exceptions along with it. Let me ask you, if you are in a busy intersection and you hear the Qur’an being recited, will you physically prostrate in front of the oncoming traffic? A better example is if you are driving wildly down the street angry at something that happened to you and you hear Qur’an being recited in your car cd player, will you prostrate right there and crash into a tree? Or will you listen to The Words of Allah and correct your actions (prostrate) and drive sensibly, and put attention to it in reverence and intention to hear and obey. This is what this verse means. When you hear the Word of God, the heart of the believer softens and he gets in line with what Allah is instructing him to do. Prostration of the heart, softening of the heart towards our most high our most merciful and most gracious God.

Prostration has many benefits, the physical prostration, but we must do all things with understanding. Prostration is a physical way to show what we feel on the inside, and sometimes we might throw ourselves before God physically, we might even cry or yell out to God or recite to Him or sing praises, and all this I see as good as long as the intention are in the right place and we are seeking understanding for why we do what we do and using the Quran, the word of Allah as our guide. I can't even begin to describe how I feel physically and spiritually during prostration. I could just stay in that position all day, as my head lowers to the earth in complete submission to Allah and feeling the gravity of the earth pull me towards the center of it and as I lift up I feel all of my negative energy just being sucked out of me into the earth again. Interestingly, prostration no less then 90 times in the glorious Quran.

Here is a list of some of the said benefits of prostration in Salah:

During Salah when you [go into] sujood extra blood flows into the brain, which is very important for [a] healthy brain. When you do sujood, this extra blood supply to the skin on the face [helps] prevent diseases such as chilblain etc.

When you do sujood there is drainage of sinuses and there are fewer chances that a person will have sinusitis, that is inflammation of the sinus, this drainage of module sinus, of the frontal sinus, and a person has less chances of having inflammation of the sinus, that is sinusitis.

When a person breathes normally only two thirds of the capacity of the lung is exhaled out, the remaining one third remain in the lung as a residual air, now when you do sujood the abdominal visra, they press against the diaphragm and the diaphragm presses against the lower part of the lungs, the lower lobes, and when you breath during sujood even this one third residual air is aired out and that's very important for a healthy lung. There are less chances of having diseases of the lungs.

In a salah we stand up and we sit down, do qayam, rukuh, sujood and when we stand up from same position the weight is localized on the bottom of the feet and the calve muscle and the thigh muscle are activated and they increase the blood supply to the lower part of the body, which is very important. Further we do various postures like standing erect, bowing down, prostrating, the vertebra column takes various postures and there are less chances of having disease of the vertebrae, of the spine.

There are medical benefits and I could do a whole research study just on that topic. But Muslims, offer Salah to thank Allah (SWT), to praise Him, to obey His commands. These are just some known side benefits.

Salat will never be the same for me again, and prostration will now be a part of my life at all times, not just during prayer time. Thank you Arilev. I hope this helps to answer your Jewish Muslim questions.

God bless you all. Salam alaikom wa rahmatAllah wa barakatoh.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Prophet Joshua, Yeshua, Eissa? (pbuh)

"7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - JOSHUA 1:7-9

7 Solamente esfuérzate y sé muy valiente, cuidando de obrar conforme a toda la Ley que mi siervo Moisés te mandó; no te apartes de ella ni a la derecha ni a la izquierda, para que seas prosperado en todas las cosas que emprendas.

8 Nunca se apartará de tu boca este libro de la Ley, sino que de día y de noche meditarás[i] en él, para que guardes y hagas conforme a todo lo que está escrito en él, porque entonces harás prosperar tu camino y todo te saldrá bien.


-JOSUE 1:7-9

God's commands to Joshua in this passage greatly contributed to shaping my character, behavior and empowering me in so many ways. It is one of the first verses I would teach my students at bible study and one that I would often reflect upon for a large portion of my life.

It has been a long time since I posted to my blog. It had also been a long time since I had recalled prophet Joshua and his words until Arilev and I were discussing the root letters of the names of the prophets between Arabic and Hebrew and the connection between Eissa's (Jesus') name and Joshua's (Yeshua's) name with regards to the Semetic letter spellings. Yosha' bin Noon as he is known in Arabic (Pbuh), is recognized as a prophet in the famous book Qasas Al-Anbiyaa (Stories of the Prophets).... He accompanied prophet Musa (Moses) (alayhi salam) in the desert for 40 yrs...also Yusha' bin Nun led bani israel into yareho known as Jericho. He was the prophet after Moses.  You will probably be seeing many more blog posts than what I typically word. It is always a blessing to be surrounded by people who inspire through example and who have nothing but goodness coming out of their mouths. As Jesus (pbuh) said; "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."

Joshua is believed to be mentioned indirectly in at least two places in the Qur'an...

(1) "Two men of those who feared, upon both of whom Allah had bestowed a favour..." (Qur'an 5:23)

One of the "two men" is said to have been Joshua as various commentators mention:

Ibn Kathir: "It is said that they were Yashu bin Noon and Kaleb..."

al Suyuti: "They were Yusha and Kaleb"

al Qurtubi: "Ibn Abbas and others have said (that) they were Yusha and Kaleb"

See also Abdullah Yusuf Ali's footnote to this verse.

(2) "Behold, Moses said to his attendant..." (Qur'an 18:60)

Commenting on "attendant":

Ibn Kathir: "Yashu bin Noon"

al Suyuti: "Yusha bin Noon"

al Qurtubi: "His attendant, Yusha bin Noon"

Yehoshua (Joshua) of Nun is called Yeshua in Nechemyah (Nehemiah) 8:17.  At the time of the Second Temple, the name Yeshua was one of the most common names of that period, evidently tied with Eliezer (another one of my favorite names) for fifth place, behind Simon (love that name), Joseph (my all time favorite), and Judah.  John, known as Yahya in the Quran (pbuh), was said in the Quran to be the first to be named Yahya by Allah.

Joshua's original name apparently was Hoshea, meaning Salvation (Num. 13:8), but then Moses changed it to Yehosua, and then Yeshua is the shortened form of it. 

According to another source, Yeshua is the original Aramaic proper name for Jesus the Nazarene.  

Yusha' bin Nun, in Hebrew - Yeshua and Oshea are said to mean "God is my salvation."

There is also a hadith where Mohammed (pbuh) is said to have mentioned that the sun never stopped to anyone except for Yusha bin Nun where he led his people after the death of Moses to enter the Promised Land.  "So he marched on and approached a village at or about the time of the Asr prayers.  He said to the sun:  Thou art submissive to Allah and so am I.  Oh Allah, stop the sun for me a little.  It was stopped for him until Allah granted him victory...." Muslim 19, 4327

It might also be possible to argue the similarity of Issa and Yusha, as the dots added later along the history of the Arabic language, if removed, would bring these two names very close together in pronunciation, but that would require more research on my part.

In conclusion, this is all I have been able to collect on the topic so far.  I will continue to add and refine this post as time goes on and I welcome any comments or corrections.  

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dr. Mohammed Al-Awathy

Salam alaikom,
I have ten days left in Kuwait. It has been an amazing experience. Yesterday, my mother and I went to the farm of Dr. Mohammed Al-Awathy's family in Wafra. Dr. Al-Awathy interviewed us both on the channel Al-Rai about how we converted to Islam. The good thing was that I was able to understand almost everything the doctor asked me, but it was very difficult for me because the entire interview was in Arabic and my Arabic language is still very limited. However, the entire time I remembered Prophet Musa Alayhi Salam (Moses) who had a speech impediment but asked Allah for help and trusted in Allah. I remembered that what was most important was to get across the message, that Allah is one, that it is for Him that we live, and that true peace and love and happiness is found in Him. It was very hard not being able to express myself as well as I wished I could or exactly what I or my mom was thinking but I hope that people still got the essence of how we felt about Islam. Overall the experience left a great impact in our lives. The production crew was very supportive and the landscape was gorgeous and the weather cooperated and the doctor's family and friends that were at the farm were so friendly and hospitable. The show will be broadcast in two parts during Ramadan insha Allah on Al-Rai channel. During my time in Kuwait I grew in so many ways, thanks first to Allah and then to all the people to touched my life here.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

SALAM ALAIKOM! سلام عليكم

I never thought to reflect upon why most Muslims and many Arabs say “ASalamu alaikom.” In Arabic this would be spelled as “السلام عليكم.” The Alef Lam or the first two letters in this word make the word salam (meaning peace) a definite noun as opposed to indefinite. I guess many people seem to think there is not much common usage difference between saying it with these two letters in front of salam and not. However, when my dear brother Ali pointed out that in no place in the Quran is it spelled with the Alef lam in front and there are many places it is mentioned as Salam Alaikom, I began to ask myself why then the Alef lam? So I felt this warranted a blog post to share the knowledge of this with others.

It may be insignificant, but as far as I’m concerned, I would tend to prefer to say it how it is said in the Quran as opposed to another way which I have no idea where it originated from. I mean, I still can’t find someone to explain to me why we say ASalamu alaikom instead of the way it is written and recited in the Quran. So I have decided I will use the Quranic way of saying salam from now on, whether it makes any difference or not.

I love the Quran and I believe it to be a complete guide for all humanity and there is so much in it we can gain from. From the Quran is where Muslims learned we should say Salam Alaikom to each other in the first place. It is actually the greeting of the angels and this is alluded to in the Quran as well.

If someone reads this post and knows why so many people say it differently than how it is said in the Quran, please feel free to contact me via email or comment. If you would like to look further and share in what I have found regarding Salam Alaikom, here are the ayat from the Quran that Ali located for me, take a look at the transliteration if you can’t read Arabic letters and you will get the idea there too about the words salam alaikom (peace be upon you):

Verse List:


6:54 - Asad - English / Muhammad Asad
Al-An’am (The Cattle)

6:54 And when those who believe in Our messages come unto thee, say: “Peace be upon you. Your Sustainer has willed upon Himself the law of grace and mercy Asad(6,46)[46] - so that if any of you does a bad deed out of ignorance, and thereafter repents and lives righteously, He shall be [found] much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.”

Topics discussed in this Verse:
[Allah's mercy] [Mercy] [Repentance]

Waitha jaaka allatheena yuminoona biayatina faqul salamun AAalaykum kataba rabbukum AAala nafsihi alrrahmata annahu man AAamila minkum sooan bijahalatin thumma taba min baAAdihi waaslaha faannahu ghafoorun raheemun

وَإِذَا جَاءكَ الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِآيَاتِنَا فَقُلْ سَلاَمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ كَتَبَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ أَنَّهُ مَن عَمِلَ مِنكُمْ سُوءًا بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ تَابَ مِن بَعْدِهِ وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَنَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

7:46 - Asad - English / Muhammad Asad
Al-A’raf (The Heights)

7:46 And between the two there will be a barrier. Asad(7,36)[36] And there will be persons who [in life] were endowed with the faculty of discernment [between right and wrong], recognizing each by its mark. Asad(7,37)[37] And they will call out unto the inmates of paradise, “Peace be upon you!”-not having entered it themselves, but longing [for it].

Topics discussed in this Verse:
[Heights ( the ) ]

Wabaynahuma hijabun waAAala alaAArafi rijalun yaAArifoona kullan biseemahum wanadaw ashaba aljannati an salamun AAalaykum lam yadkhulooha wahum yatmaAAoona

وَبَيْنَهُمَا حِجَابٌ وَعَلَى الأَعْرَافِ رِجَالٌ يَعْرِفُونَ كُلاًّ بِسِيمَاهُمْ وَنَادَوْاْ أَصْحَابَ الْجَنَّةِ أَن سَلاَمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ لَمْ يَدْخُلُوهَا وَهُمْ يَطْمَعُونَ (7:46)

Ar-Ra’d (The Thunder)

13:24 “Peace be upon you, because you have persevered!” How excellent, then, this fulfillment in the hereafter!

Topics discussed in this Verse:
[Believers:rewarded with Gardens] [Greeting:in Paradise] [Peace:greeting in Paradise]

Salamun AAalaykum bima sabartum faniAAma AAuqba alddari

سَلاَمٌ عَلَيْكُم بِمَا صَبَرْتُمْ فَنِعْمَ عُقْبَى الدَّارِ (13:24)

An-Nahl (The Bee)

16:32 those whom the angels gather in death while they are in a state of inner purity, greeting them thus: “Peace be upon you! Enter paradise by virtue of what you were doing [in life]!”

Topics discussed in this Verse:
[Angels] [Angels:take the souls of the dying] [Day of judgment] [Death] [Greeting:in Paradise] [Noah:rules regarding] [Peace:greeting in Paradise]

Allatheena tatawaffahumu almalaikatu tayyibeena yaqooloona salamun AAalaykumu odkhuloo aljannata bima kuntum taAAmaloona

الَّذِينَ تَتَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلآئِكَةُ طَيِّبِينَ يَقُولُونَ سَلامٌ عَلَيْكُمُ ادْخُلُواْ الْجَنَّةَ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ (16:32)

Maryam (Mary)

19:15 Hence, [God's] peace was upon him on the day when he was born, and on the day of his death, and. will be [upon him] on the day when he shall be raised to life [again].

Topics discussed in this Verse:

Wasalamun AAalayhi yawma wulida wayawma yamootu wayawma yubAAathu hayyan

وَسَلَامٌ عَلَيْهِ يَوْمَ وُلِدَ وَيَوْمَ يَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ يُبْعَثُ حَيًّا (19:15)

Maryam (Mary)

19:47 [Abraham] replied: “Peace be upon thee! I shall ask my Sustainer to forgive thee: for, behold, He has always been kind unto me.

Topics discussed in this Verse:
[Abraham:argues with father against idolatry] [Abraham:remonstrates with Azar] [Allah:seek His forgiveness]

Qala salamun AAalayka saastaghfiru laka rabbee innahu kana bee hafiyyan

قَالَ سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكَ سَأَسْتَغْفِرُ لَكَ رَبِّي إِنَّهُ كَانَ بِي حَفِيًّا (19:47)

An-Naml (The Ants)

27:59 SAY: “All praise is due to God, and peace be upon those servants of His whom He chose [to be His message-bearers]!” Is not God far better than anything to which men [falsely] ascribe a share in His divinity? Asad(27,54)[54]

Topics discussed in this Verse:
[Allah:Praise be to Him] [Messengers:peace be upon them] [Peace:upon Allah's servants and messengers]

Quli alhamdu lillahi wasalamun AAala AAibadihi allatheena istafa allahu khayrun amma yushrikoona

قُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ وَسَلَامٌ عَلَى عِبَادِهِ الَّذِينَ اصْطَفَى آللَّهُ خَيْرٌ أَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ (27:59)

Al-Qasas (The Narration)

28:55 and, whenever they heard frivolous talk, Asad(28,54)[54] having turned away from it and said: “Unto us shall be accounted Our deeds, and unto you, your deeds. Peace be upon you - [but] we do not seek out such as are ignorant [of the meaning of right and wrong].”

Waitha samiAAoo allaghwa aAAradoo AAanhu waqaloo lana aAAmaluna walakum aAAmalukum salamun AAalaykum la nabtaghee aljahileena

وَإِذَا سَمِعُوا اللَّغْوَ أَعْرَضُوا عَنْهُ وَقَالُوا لَنَا أَعْمَالُنَا وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَالُكُمْ سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ لَا نَبْتَغِي الْجَاهِلِينَ (28:55)

Az-Zumar (The Groups)

39:73 But those who were conscious of their Sus­tainer will be urged on in throngs towards paradise till, when they reach it, they shall find its gates wide- open; Asad(39,75)[75] and its keepers will say unto them, “Peace be upon you! Well have you done: enter, then, this [paradise], herein to abide!”

Topics discussed in this Verse:
[Day of judgment] [Gardens of Paradise] [Greeting:in Paradise] [Peace:greeting in Paradise]

Waseeqa allatheena ittaqaw rabbahum ila aljannati zumaran hatta itha jaooha wafutihat abwabuha waqala lahum khazanatuha salamun AAalaykum tibtum faodkhulooha khalideena

وَسِيقَ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا رَبَّهُمْ إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ زُمَرًا حَتَّى إِذَا جَاؤُوهَا وَفُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُهَا وَقَالَ لَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَا سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ طِبْتُمْ فَادْخُلُوهَا خَالِدِينَ (39:73)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Salman Al-Farsi

I have been wanting to post about this man for some time but I kept forgetting and this story has special meaning in my life. Many people in the Middle East have often retold this story to me after I have told them how I came to Islam. I also happen to like his name. One of my favorite cultures and languages other than Arabic is Persian. Anyway, the last time I heard this story was from the father of my friend here in Kuwait when I was visiting them for the first or second time at their home. We were sitting outside after dinner eating kanafa and drinking tea. Her sister, mother and brother were there too. Anyway, I really love her father and I will never forget how well he can tell a story. He made the story about Salman Al-Farsi come alive. His wife, my friend's mom, is actually from Mexico so it was nice to find a literal "marriage" of my two favorite cultures. :)
Anyway, when I have time, I will elaborate more about his story but in the mean time, here is a nice version of the story I found at

SALMAN AL-FARSI Radhia Allahu Anaha
his is a story of a seeker of Truth, the story of Salman the Persian, gleaned, to begin with, from his own words:

I grew up in the town of Isfahan in Persia in the village of Jayyan. My father was the Dihqan or chief of the village. He was the richest person there and had the biggest house.

Since I was a child my father loved me, more than he loved any other. As time went by his love for me became so strong and overpowering that he feared to lose me or have anything happen to me. So he kept me at home, a veritable prisoner, in the same way that young girls were kept.

I became devoted to the Magian religion so much so that I attained the position of custodian of the fire which we worshipped. My duty was to see that the flames of the fire remained burning and that it did not go out for a single hour, day or night.

My father had a vast estate which yielded an abundant supply of crops. He himself looked after the estate and the harvest. One day he was very busy with his duties as dihqan in the village and he said to me:

"My son, as you see, I am too busy to go out to the estate now. Go and look after matters there for me today."

On my way to the estate, I passed a Christian church and the voices at prayer attracted my attention. I did not know anything about Christianity or about the followers of any other religion throughout the time my father kept me in the house away from people. When I heard the voices of the Christians I entered the church to see what they were doing.

I was impressed by their manner of praying and felt drawn to their religion. "By God," I said, "this is better than ours. I shall not leave them until the sun sets."

I asked and was told that the Christian religion originated in AshSham (Greater Syria). I did not go to my father's estate that day and at night, I returned home. My father met me and asked what I had done. I told him about my meeting with the Christians and how I was impressed by their religion. He was dismayed and said:

"My son, there is nothing good in that religion. Your religion and the religion of your forefathers is better."

"No, their religion is better than ours," I insisted.

My father became upset and afraid that I would leave our religion. So he kept me locked up in the house and put a chain on my feet. I managed however to send a message to the Christians asking them to inform me of any caravan going to Syria. Before long they got in touch with me and told me that a caravan was headed for Syria. I managed to unfetter myself and in disguise accompanied the caravan to Syria. There, I asked who was the leading person in the Christian religion and was directed to the bishop of the church. I went up to him and said:

"I want to become a Christian and would like to attach myself to your service, learn from you and pray with you."

The bishop agreed and I entered the church in his service. I soon found out, however, that the man was corrupt. He would order his followers to give money in chanty while holding out the promise of blessings to them. When they gave anything to spend in the way oRGod however, he would hoard it for himself and not give anything to the poor or needy. In this way he amassed a vast quantity of gold. When the bishop died and the Christians gathered to bury him, I told them of his corrupt practices and, at their request, showed them where he kept their donations. When they saw the large jars filled with gold and silver they said.

"By God, we shall not bury him." They nailed him on a cross and threw stones at him.

I continued in the service of the person who replaced him. The new bishop was an ascetic who longed for the Hereafter and engaged in worship day and night. I was greatly devoted to him and spent a long time in his company.

(After his death, Salman attached himself to various Christian religious figures, in Mosul, Nisibis and elsewhere. The last one had told him about the appearance of a Prophet in the land of the Arabs who would have a reputation for strict honesty, one who would accept a gift but would never consume charity (sadaqah) for himself. Salman continues his story.)

A group of Arab leaders from the Kalb tribe passed through Ammuriyah and I asked them to take me with them to the land of the Arabs in return for whatever money I had. They agreed and I paid them. When we reached Wadi al-Qura (a place between Madinah and Syria), they broke their agreement and sold me to a Jew. I worked as a servant for him but eventually he sold me to a nephew of his belonging to the tribe of Banu Qurayzah. This nephew took me with him to Yathrib, the city of palm groves, which is how th e Christian at Ammuriyah had described it.

At that time the Prophet was inviting his people in Makkah to Islam but I did not hear anything about him then because of the harsh duties which slavery imposed upon me.

When the Prophet reached Yathrib after his hijrah from Makkah, I was in fact at the top of a palm tree belonging to my master doing some work. My master was sitting under the tree. A nephew of his came up and said:

"May God declare war on the Aws and the Khazraj (the two main Arab tribes of Yathrib). By God, they are now gathering at Quba to meet a man who has today come from Makkah and who claims he is a Prophet." I felt hot flushes as soon as I heard these words and I began to shiver so violently that I was afraid that I might fall on my master. I quickly got down from the tree and spoke to my master's nephew. "What did you say? Repeat the news for me."

My mastcr was very angry and gave me a terrible blow. "What does this matter to you? Go back to what you were doing," he shouted.

That evening, I took some dates that I had gathered and went to the place where the Prophet had alighted. I went up to him and said:

"I have heard that you are a righteous man and that you have companions with you who are strangers and are in need. Here is something from me as sadaqah. I see that you are more deserving of it than others."

The Prophet ordered his companions to eat but he himself did not eat of it.

I gathered some more dates and when the Prophet left Quba for Madinah I went to him and said: "I noticed that you did not eat of the sadaqah I gave. This however is a gift for you." Of this gift of dates, both he and his companions ate.

The strict honesty of the Prophet was one of the characteristics that led Salman to believe in him and accept Islam.

Salman was released from slavery by the Prophet who paid his Jewish slave-owner a stipulated price and who himself planted an agreed number of date palms to secure his manumission. After accepting Islam, Salman would say when asked whose son he was:

"I am Salman, the son of Islam from the children of Adam."

Salman was to play an important role in the struggles of the growing Muslim state. At the battle of Khandaq, he proved to be an innovator in military strategy. He suggested digging a ditch or khandaq around Madinah to keep the Quraysh army at bay. When Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Makkans, saw the ditch, he said, "This strategem has not been employed by the Arabs before."

Salman became known as "Salman the Good". He was a scholar who lived a rough and ascetic life. He had one cloak which he wore and on which he slept. He would not seek the shelter of a roof but stayed under a tree or against a wall. A man once said to him: "Shall I not build you a house in which to live?" "I have no need of a house," he replied.

The man persisted and said, "I know the type of house that would suit you." "Describe it to me," said Salman.

"I shall build you a house which if you stand up in it, its roof will hurt your head and if you stretch your legs the wall will hurt them."

Later, as a govenor of al-Mada'in (Ctesiphon) near Baghdad, Salman received a stipend of five thousand dirhams. This he would distribute as sadaqah. He lived from the work of his own hands. When some people came to Mada'in and saw him working in the palm groves, they said, "You are the amir here and your sustenance is guaranteed and you do this work!"

"I like to eat from the work of my own hands," he replied. Salman however was not extreme in his asceticism. It is related that he once visited Abu ad-Dardaa with whom the Prophet had joined him in brotherhood. He found Abu adDardaa's wife in a miserable state and he asked, "What is the matter with you."

"Your brother has no need of anything in this world*" she replied.

When Abu ad-Dardaa came, he welcomed Salman and gave him food. Salman told him to eat but Abu adDardaa said, "I am fasting."

"I swear to you that I shall not eat until you eat also."

Salman spent the night there as well. During the night, Abu ad-Dardaa got up but Salman got hold of him and said:

"O Abu ad-Dardaa, your Lord has a right over you. Your family have a right over you and your body has a right over you. Give to each its due."

In the morning, they prayed together and then went out to meet the Prophet, peace be upon him. The Prophet supported Salman in what he had said.

As a scholar, Salman was noted for his vast knowledge and wisdom. Ali said of him that he was like Luqman the Wise. And Ka'b al-Ahbar said: "Salman is stuffed with knowledge and wisdomÑan ocean that does not dry up." Salman had a knowledge of both the Christian scriptures and the Qur'an in addition to his earlier knowledge of the Zoroastrian religion. Salman in fact translated parts of the Qur'an into Persian during the life-time of the Prophet. He was thus the first person to translate the Qur'an into a foreign language.

Salman, because of the influential household in which he grew up, might easily have been a major figure in the sprawling Persian Empire of his time. His search for truth however led him, even before the Prophet had appeared, to renounce a comfortable and affluent life and even to suffer the indignities of slavery. According to the most reliable account, he died in the year thirty five after the hijrah, during the caliphate of Uthman, at Ctesiphon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mid Term Exams at Kuwait University "Emtihanat fee Jamyat AlKuwait"

Assalamu alaikoum,
Sorry I am not posting so often, it has been a demanding semester, probably my most demanding semester in the university yet. I am in the middle of mid term exams. Two of my five courses are in full Arabic; Kuwait Government and Politics and Islamic History. The other two are just p artially in Arabic - Managerial Accounting, Calculus, and Entrepreneurship. I must do a debate about one of the legislative committees in the Kuwaiti government and I chose the committee on the environment. I will let you know how it goes. Speaking of government, Kuwait currently has none... Hehehe.. At least no parliament... The parliament was dissolved by the Emiri decree just last week. They will have to re-elect new officials. This is not the first time this has happened in Kuwait. At any rate, I have a lot to do today, including studying for exams and writing papers and doing my work for m internship so I better get going soon.

I have been enjoying learning more and more abotu Kuwaiti culture as each day passes. Just recently I visited the wife of the brother of my friend's husband. Her name is Sahar. She had a family gathering and invited me. This famil is sooo nice. I love them all. That night we had so much fun. First we sat in the sitting room and talked about Islam and introduced ourselves. Then we had a great Kuwaiti potluck dinner and all the ladies were telling me which traditional dish they made. They were all so delicious. I love Kuwaiti and all Arab food. Yum! My favorite that night was the Moreg Laham. MMMM. If you can find it, try cooking with Loomi, it is a dried black lime. It adds a beautiful flavor to practically anything. Anyway, when were sitting in the living room talking, they asked me to tell them how I came to Islam. Most people I have met here love to hear stories about converts. It inspires them. Anyway, after dinner and desserts, we all gathered again in the living room to play a game. It was a riddle game and those who guessed the answer to the riddle questions would win a prize. I won a couple prizes. When a person would win, we would all do songs and cheers, Kuwaiti style. SO WANASA. Then Sahar played some traditional Kuwait music and her mother and aunt started to do the old traditional Kuwaiti dancing and I danced with them and then everyone joined in. It was really cool to see all the generations of these ladies mixed together and celebrating Kuwaiti culture. When I left, Sahar gave me a bunch of desserts and treats to take home. I gave everyone kisses and it was back to the house.

Ok, time to get back to my studies....

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thaabita 3la Qyamy (Holding steadfast to my values)

Assalamu alaikoum
I am enjoying my second semester in Kuwait but time is flying past with the many courses I am taking. It is quite a load. The Accounting and Entrepreneurship courses are going smoothly but Calculus and Kuwait Government are constant challenges to stay caught up with. But alhamdulEllah. I trust that they will all go well with Allah's help. I am still involved with Model United Nations and we are planning to attend another conference in Brazil this summer inshallah. I am so excited for it. This week was full of lectures for me. I had one about Earth Hour, which you can find more information about at It is a campaign to get cities around the world collectively to turn off the lights for one hour at 8pm on March 29th. I also went to a lecture about Women's Political Rights in Kuwait by a professor of sociology from Kuwait University at the Aware Center. I went to a lecture called "Thaabita 3la Qyamy" which means, Holding Steadfast to My Values. It was with Dr. Mohammed Al-3awathy and he was talking about how we should stand up for our values and hold fast to them even when society and people around us are not and we should not be shy about them. We should not be ashamed to hold on to them. Allah is first and we should fear Allah more than society.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


I love anything that involves old tradition, especially that which is connected to religion or culture. Yesterday my friend invited me for a traditional Kuwaiti family lunch. It was soooo wanasa (fun/cool/etc). First we had tea and I saw the old family photos. Their family goes way back in Kuwait history. Their grandfather, Allah yarhamhu was Sheikh Yousef, a well known man in Kuwait who first promoted the education system here. Then I saw their little brother's art and he is very talented and their mom really fosters his talent and that is nice to see. Then we had lunch and it was a feast of course, everything from Mechbous Diyay to Moreg Lahem to Salads. Then we had the most amazing dates and homemade leben (an unsweetened yogurt drink i absolutely love). While we were eating, they were surprised I like to eat with my hands too as that is something very traditional Kuwait and in other Arab countries too. My friend Farrah taught me the technique of eating with my hands and it really works great!! I never knew there was an actual technique to it. It was very systematic and it is so efficient! Also, she taught me how the prophet Mohammed (saaws) used to sit when eating and u would have one leg pushing against his stomach. Very cool.

Later we went upstairs and had dessert consisting of two kinds of kanafa, Arabic icecream that is soooo yummy and extra goey because they make it with starch. Then we had Arabic coffee and talked until late afternoon. We talked about Islam, school, family, marriage. Just before I left, my friends' mom's trainer arrived and I did Aerobics with her for a few minutes. It was a beautiful day.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Assalamu alaikoum wa rahmatAllah wa barakatoh,
I had to leave the country last week because my visa was going to expire. I thought I could just get it renewed but apparently leaving the country and coming back was the only option. So I bought a ticket to Jordan to see my friends there and go exploring some more religious historical sites. I only had 3 days but I made the most of them. I arrived on the first day and surprised the family I know there again. I missed them a lot and it was soo great to see all of them again alhamdulEllah. There is something special about Jordan, I just feel very comfortable there. Even arriving to the airport was a comforting feeling. The first night I just went to watch a night soccer game and catch up with my friends. Then we had a nice late night meal of traditional Jordanian snacks. The next day we woke up early and left for Petra. The road on the way there was surrounded by desert until we began approaching Petra which revealed a range of high rock formations as we decended down to Petra. It reminded me a bit of the Grand Canyon back in the states. We arrived just in time for duhr Friday prayer in this little town just outside of Petra and the first sound we heard as we arrived was the Athan, the call to prayer. We then heard the khutbah (sermon) over the loudspeaker and got some snacks for the road and left. We arrived shortly thereafter in Petra. The first thing I saw was many little shops of souvenirs and then as I walked further I saw many horses. It was so good to see horses after such a long time. I missed horses so much and has expected to see more of them in the Middle East. We began the path to Petra, when I quickly realized that Petra was all around us the entire time. It was an enormous city of houses and carvings all the way down the long path. It took us about an hour though it may have been longer, I completely forgot time the entire time I was there. I didn't feel the time at all and at the same time it felt like we were going on forever, but in a good and fun way, not in a boring and tiring way. I was mesmerized by the power of the place. I fell in love with it instantly and the weather that day was absolutely perfect. The entire day was a miracle and a testament to God's power, love and you could see that day so clearly how everything Allah creates worships him. Even the couple of ants I saw when I was about to pray seemed to be in worship of Him. I couldn't have asked for a more glorious day and there is nothing I could compare it too. It was so peaceful and beauty was everywhere and you could feel it with every sense a human being possesses. The most powerful moment of the journey was as we approached the famous sculpture of the tall building in the rocks. I think it was not the main one but it was powerful enough that I could feel almost an energy from it even before I could see it ahead of me. But it wasn't the building that made the most impact on me actually, although it did take my breath away. It was seeing a camel up close for the first time in my life. Two of them were sitting in front of the building wearing traditional blankets and saddles. They were so amazing I could not take my eyes off them. I felt like in the movie Jurassic Park with the paleontologists first come across a living dinosaur. The sound the camels make is also just as amazing and powerful. I felt an instant connection with this animal. I was instantly taken away to the time of the life of prophet Ishaq (Isaac), alayhi salam and the story I had read in the bible of Rebekah, his wife. The story of Rebekah had a great impact on my life and every time I saw a camel I would think of her, and when I became Muslim, I also thought of Fatima, the prophet Mohammed's (pbuh) daughter and the story of her marriage to Ali. I will first start with reflecting upon Rebekah's story and how camels make me feel connected with her, especially on this day when I first touched on with my own hands.

Here is information about Rebekah I took off Wikipedia (
After, Sarah, Abraham's wife, dies, and after taking care of her burial, Abraham goes about finding a wife for his son Isaac. He commands his servant Eliezer (meaning of name - my God has helped) to journey to his birthplace of Aram Naharaim to select a bride from his own family, rather than engage Isaac to a local Canaanite girl. Abraham sends along expensive jewelry, clothing and dainties as gifts to the bride and her family. If the girl refuses to come, Eliezer will be absolved of his responsibility.

Eliezer devises a test in order to find the right wife for Isaac. As he stands at the central well in Abraham's birthplace with his men and ten camels laden with goods, he prays to God:

"Let it be the the maiden to whom I shall say, 'Please tip over your jug so I may drink,' and who replies, 'Drink, and I will even water your camels,' her will You have designated for Your servant, for Isaac" (Genesis 24:14).

To his surprise, a young girl immediately comes out and offers to draw water for him to drink, as well as water to fill the troughs for all his camels. Rebecca continues to draw water until all the camels are sated, proving her kind and generous nature and her suitability for entering Abraham's household.

Eliezer immediately gives her a golden nose ring and two golden bracelets (Genesis 24:22), which she hurries to show her mother. Seeing the jewelry, her brother Laban runs out to greet the guest and bring him inside. Eliezer recounts the oath he made to Abraham and all the details of his trip to and meeting with Rebecca in fine detail, after which Laban and Bethuel agree that she can return with him. After hosting Eliezer and his men overnight, however, the family tries to keep Rebecca with them for another 10 months or a year. Eliezer insists that they ask the girl herself, and she agrees to go immediately. Her family sends her off with her nurse, Deborah, and blesses her, "Our sister, may you come to be thousands of myriads, and may your offspring inherit the gate of its foes."

As Rebecca and her entourage approach Abraham's home, they spy Isaac from a distance in the fields of Beer-lahai-roi. The Talmud (Berachot 26b) and the Midrash explain that Isaac was praying, as he instituted Mincha, the afternoon prayer. Seeing such a spiritually-exalted man, Rebecca immediately dismounts from her camel and asks Eliezer who it is. When she hears that he is her future husband, she modestly covers herself with a veil. Isaac brings her into the tent of his mother Sarah, marries her, and loves her.

Wedding Allusions

Some of the events leading up to the marriage of Isaac and Rebecca have been institutionalized in the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony. Before the bride and bridegroom stand under the chuppah, they participate in a special ceremony called badeken (veiling). The bridegroom is led to the bride by two escorts and, seeing her, covers her with a veil, similar to the way Rebecca covered herself before marrying Isaac. Then the bridegroom (or the father of the bride) recites the same blessing over the bride which Rebecca's family recited over her.

Marriage and motherhood

Both Isaac and Rebecca prayed fervently to God for offspring. God eventually answered Isaac's prayers and Rebecca conceived.

Rebecca was extremely uncomfortable during the pregnancy, and God is said to have told her that that was because her two twin children were fighting in her womb, and would continue to fight all through their lives. Her firstborn son was Esau, and the second was Jacob (Yakub).

I always envision Rebekah giving water to the camels whenever I see them. Seeing the camels made me feel so connected with Rebekah and with Fatima as well. I had told the story about Fatima in an earlier post but basically the way she married Ali made me want to marry in the same way. When I see camels I remember the part in the story when she rode on a camel on her way to Ali's house to marry him.

When I rode the camel, I enjoyed it so much I almost cried when I had to get off. I wanted to keep riding it all day.

I remembered my grandmother who was my only other family member who had ridden a camel before. I was so excited to return home so I could tell her all about this experience and show her the photos. But unfortunately, when I returned from Jordan to Kuwait, I received the news that my grandmother had passed away, so I lost both of my grandmothers in the same year. This was my father's mother. She was an amazing woman ma sha Allah. We were so close, and she taught me so much and was such a great mother and grandmother. From what I know, she was not a Muslim, she was Christian but I know she loved God and she gave so much love to so many people, and I pray Allah have mercy on her and we are All from Allah and to Him is our return.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kuwait University (jam3atfilkuwait)

:) So fiiiinallly, akheeeeeeeeran I have made some progress in attempting to attend Kuwait University. Last semester I attended American University of Kuwait which was an amazing experience, but it is too expensive and I also wanted to try to experience a more authentically Kuwaiti cultural setting which I could find in Kuwait University. AUK is more liberal and more diverse but they both have their good and bad points so I am happy to experience both schools. From the time I came to Kuwait, actually even before that, I had tried to look into studying at Kuwait University but it was soooooo difficult to obtain information about the school. It is a national university and 90% of the students are Kuwaiti. They have a program for non-degree students, where they allow visiting students to attend for up to three semesters for credit classes but they cannot obtain a degree there. I finally found out about this through a friend that attends there. I found out they had many courses in English when I had heard the contrary before. I got the course catalog and was happy to see they had many courses related to my majors in English. I even discovered they have an intensive Arabic program that I would have taken last semester had I known about it. It is three hours a day every day. I also saw the book and it was just my level. But unfortunately I found out that I cannot take the intensive Arabic if I want to take other courses at KU. What a bummer. I had to walk all around the campuses trying to find the teachers for the courses I want to register for and get their signatures. It was a three day long process and three days into the semester. I didn't get why they would not let me register until the first day of the course when the process takes so much time. But thankfully I had a friend at KU help me obtain all the signatures and find my way around campus. AlhamdulEllah. I am almost registered but not quite, I need one last signature before they will let me. Insha Allah it will all work out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Day in the Desert

Assalamu alaikoum ! I have great news! SubhanAllah, Glory to Allah. Remember a few month back when I was just thinking about how we can contribute to changing the condition of the orphanage??? I talked to many people and considered helping my friend Hamad with a documentary about the orphanage to raise awareness and today, just five months later, I discovered through my auntie, the Kuwaiti lady I am living with in Kuwait, that an NGO is coming in and restructuring the orphanage. They have such a great vision and a well-organized and innovative plan to achieve it for the children. I had the privilege of meeting the main organizers of this plan today as I went to the desert in the area called July3a, Kuwait, where they were holding a fun camp for the kids with horses and swings and trampolines and magicians and food and lots of fun for them. The leaders were women and some of the most admirable women I have ever had the opportunity to meet. Kuwaitis have a lot to be proud of in these ladies. Ma sha Allah. Even I am proud to know there are Muslim women like this making a change in their society in such a way. They truly are amazing women, and they are also so sweet and I enjoyed every second I shared with them. I hope I can do like them someday. They are great role models for the young people of Kuwait. They are also careful about keeping a low profile with their names and the NGO as they feel it would be un-Islamic to go around boasting. That is nice to see for a change. It is Allah who is the best rewarder and may He reward them for what they are trying to accomplish and may all of these children succeed in life here and in the hereafter insha Allah. One of the leaders of the NGO happens to be the wife of a key minister in Kuwait and she is of the royal family. It was inspiring to watch her work today along with her team. She introduced me to her daughters who are the kindest and gentlest ladies, as well as super smart and savvy. I spent the afternoon with them at their home eating chocolate chip cookies and drinking lemonade while talking about Islam and about the importance of realizing our rights in Islam as women and the importance of not just accepting what people say but to seek the truth and read the Quran and seek understanding. I found some special new friends today that's for sure.
It was also sooo great to see the kids again and they remembered me some of them and I hope to continue visiting them over the years watching them grow up. It is now encouraging that they will implement some infrastructure into the orphanage that will help mold these children and refine them in sha Allah.
Now I am just waiting to register for Kuwait University. I must do it Sunday. I must also rent a car on Sunday. My friend Emily found me a place to rent one and she says she got hers for 95 kd a month which is great. Insha Allah I will get the same deal. I am praying I will get the classes I need for this semester. I must take calculus or I will have to return to the states so insha Allah it will work out. I moved out of my apartment since my roommate left and now I am living in a different area and this time in the home of a Kuwaiti lady. She is the good friend of my friend's mom. She is soooo great. I am so happy living with her. She has two daughters in college in the states so we are keeping each other company and we have become close. I really enjoy living here. She is very smart and knowledgeable about so many things and she is is also so kind. AlhamdulEllah. I feel so blessed. Every day that passes in Kuwait Allah by his grace showers me with blessings. I feel so happy living in this new place, so happy I can't believe it. It is so great to live in a country and live among the people of that culture. That is the best way to learn the culture in a short time. We are also exchanging languages. She knows seven!! Ma sha Allah. I am teaching her some Spanish and she is tutoring me in Arabic and teaching me some Greek too which is one the languages I had wanted to learn.
Tomorrow I have a long day again, so I better go to sleep, I will be helping with forming the fitness education for the orphans tomorrow. I don't know what it will involve but I will let you know how it goes.
Assalamu alaikoum wa rahmatAllah.